Indian Army chief General M M Naravane will arrive in Kathmandu on November 4 on a three-day official visit during which he will meet Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, who is also holding the defence portfolio. Gen Naravane will be visiting Nepal from November 4 to November 6 at the official invitation of the Nepalese Army chief, according to a statement issued by the Nepal Army headquarters here.
Continuing a tradition of friendship between the two militaries, Gen Naravane will be conferred with the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army’ by President Bidya Devi Bhandari during a special ceremony at the Rastrapati Bhawan, the statement said. The tradition, which started in 1950, reflects the strong ties between the two militaries.
General Naravane is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Oli, who is holding the defence portfolio, on the final day of his visit. He will also pay homage at the martyrs’ memorial in the Army Pavilion, receive a guard of honour, hold official meeting with his counterpart General Purna Chandra Thapa and address the student officers at the Army Command and Staff College, Shivapuri, the statement added.
The ties between the two countries came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8. Nepal protested the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through its territory. Days later, Nepal came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.
In the midst of the row, Gen Naravane said that there were reasons to believe that Nepal objected to the road at the behest of “someone else”, in an apparent reference to a possible role by China in the matter. The comments triggered angry reactions from Nepal. India too had published a new map in November 2019 showing the areas as its territories.
After Nepal released the map, India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioning Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it. In June, Nepal’s Parliament approved the new political map of the country featuring areas which India maintains belong to it.
In its reaction, after Nepal’s lower house of parliament approved the bill, India termed as untenable the “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims by the neighbouring country. India said Nepal’s action violates an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.
Nepalese Prime Minister Oli has been asserting that Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura belong to his country and vowed to “reclaim” them from India. The Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both India and Nepal claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory – India as part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of Dharchula district.